Self-Designed Major

  • While president of Lake Forest’s Pride organization, Jared Fox ’09 decided to take his interest in civil rights and social justice beyond his Politics major. He designed an independent scholar major to look at the roles activism played in state legislation and decisions on gay marriage in Massachusetts and California.

Some of our strongest students find that no one traditional major fully meets what they want to study. A student interested in linguistics, for instance, could major in a modern language and sociology-anthropology but still might find her needs aren’t entirely met with those two departments alone.

The mission of the Self-Designed Major is to provide an avenue by which Lake Forest College students can achieve a level of competence similar to that of students in any of our regularly-offered undergraduate majors, in an academic area of their own design. Working with a faculty advisor, a student accepted into the Self-Designed Major can pursue his or her own course of study deeply, culminating in a senior thesis, creative project, or research project. 

The Self-Designed Major emphasizes self-determination for its students, while offering guidance and assistance in developing their individualized plans. The responsibility for design and execution of the major lies with students, beginning with presentation of their cases for admission to the program. Students contemplating designing their own majors are encouraged to schedule an appointment with any member of the Self-Designed Major Committee to discuss application procedures, to brainstorm appropriate foci for their studies, or to solicit recommendations for faculty advisors.  This major is compatible with the pursuit of a second major as well. 

Second-semester sophomores or first-semester juniors may apply: the application consists of a detailed proposal, described on the “requirements” page. In special cases, students may be admitted in their first year. Admission to the program is determined by the Self-Designed Major Program Committee, on the basis of the quality of students’ proposals, as described in the requirements section. 

To your right, you’ll see the broad variety of majors that our Independent Scholars have completed in recent years. These majors have led to some fascinating senior theses, such as “European Federalism and the Social Welfare States: How Free Movement, Subsidiarity, and the ECB Affect Safety New Spending in the E.U.,” “Do Androids Joke of Electric Sheep? An Examination of the Theoretical and Technical Future of Figurative Language Computation,” “The Success of Mama Grizzlies: An Examination of the Intersection of Gender and Partisan Stereotyping at the Gubernatorial Level,” “Communal Pedagogy in Documenta 12,” “Chicago’s Natural Aesthetic: A Study of Identity Through Columbus Park,” and “‘Amped About Hell’: Representations of the Suburban Gothic in Serial Television.”

 

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